One of Football Index’s unique attributes as a platform is that it allows traders to pick and choose which players to buy and sell, which to stockpile, and which to keep an eye on in the future. Traders can spot a promising footballer, buy stock in said player, and watch them flourish as the player’s profile grows on the world stage. If you truly believe that a teenage prospect who’s only registered a handful of substitute appearances will go on to become a Golden Boot winner, you have the power to put your money where your mouth is and add him to your portfolio.
Each Monday, Zach Lowy will analyze a new U-23 player who Football Index traders should buy in a new weekly series called “Weekly Wonderkids.” With this series, you’ll be able to discover which youngsters you should place your trust in — and money– and why.
Name: Myron Boadu
Following the closure of the November international break, we are now a third of the way into the 2019/20 season, and certain youngsters have already begun to cement themselves as some of the best prospects in Europe. Two of the top three goal providers (goals and assists combined) in Europe across all competitions are teenagers — Red Bull Salzburg’s Erling Haaland at #1 and AZ Alkmaar’s Myron Boadu at #3.
But whilst Haaland’s incredible performances in the UEFA Champions League and the Austrian Bundesliga have announced him as football’s next big thing, Boadu’s accomplishments in the UEFA Europa League and the Eredivisie haven’t garnered him as much hype. Let’s take a look into why Myron Boadu is a must-buy for all Football Index traders.
While it’s been a disappointing season for PSV, who, after going the distance with Ajax in last season’s title race, currently lag 11 points behind de Godenzonen, Arne Slot’s AZ Alkmaar have put together an unheralded Cinderella’s Story. Despite playing their home games an hour away from home at The Hague, after their stadium’s roof collapsed in mid-August, AZ currently sit six points behind Ajax in second place in the Eredivisie, and look set to qualify out of their Europa League group too; a draw against Partizan on Thursday would ensure qualification into the knockout round.
Part of this is due to good coaching; Slot’s 4-2-3-1 has gotten the most out of this team’s uniquely gifted group of youngsters. But it’s also due to AZ’s impressive group of individuals — the likes of Teun Koopmeiners, Owen Wijndal and Calvin Stengs have risen up through AZ’s academy to become key members of the first team, and Boadu is the latest homegrown product to burst onto the scene for the Cheeseheads.
Early Promise Stymied by Injuries
While his meteoric rise does give the impression that he came out of nowhere, Boadu’s potential has been well-known for quite some time. The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Boadu debuted for AZ’s reserve side at 15 years old and took just 23 minutes to grab his debut goal. AZ’s B team would go on to win the Tweede Divisie, earning promotion to the Dutch second division, as Boadu chipped in 13 goals that season.
It would have been natural, then, for Boadu to put the cherry on top to an impressive season by showcasing his talent against international competition in that summer’s U-17 Euros. Fate, however, would have other ideas.
After coming on for Vitesse’s Thomas Buitink in Holland’s first match of the tournament, Boadu’s tournament would come to an end after just 28 minutes on the pitch. In a desperate attempt to prevent a goal kick, Boadu landed heavily on his left foot and tore his meniscus. He would have to wait another year to return to football.
Following a year of rehabilitation, Boadu debuted for AZ’s first team in the final week of the 2017/18 season. He took the ensuing summer to shake off the cobwebs and prepare for what could, finally, be his breakout season.
Boadu became the youngest goalscorer in AZ’s history when he scored against NAC Breda on August 12, 2018, and grabbed his second goal a week later against Emmen. In his first 11 appearances, Boadu racked up three goals and two assists, turning him into one of the hottest emerging talents in the Eredivisie. However, in another cruel twist of fate, Boadu suffered a nightmare injury against Feyenoord following a horror tackle from Eric Botteghin. Once again, he was forced to bid farewell to another season when it was just beginning.
A Long-Awaited Breakout Season
Players with Boadu’s never-say die mentality, though, don’t allow injuries to define them, no matter how long-lasting and gruesome those setbacks may be. Slot, who had served as ex-coach John van den Brom’s assistant for the prior two years before being hired as manager, gave Boadu an early vote of confidence when he oversaw the departures of Björn Johnsen, Mats Seuntjens and Ondrej Mihalik, without signing any strikers to replace them.
Boadu, fresh off his second long-term injury in as many years, would be expected to carry the load in attack. AZ reinforced their trust in their burgeoning center forward on July 19 when they gave him a contract extension until 2023.
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) November 19, 2019
It didn’t take long for Boadu to start repaying their trust. In a must-win Europa League qualifier against Swedish side BK Häcken, Boadu grabbed the opening goal and two assists, and showed signs of developing a promising attacking trio alongside Stengs and Oussama Idrissi. Fast forward a few months, and Boadu currently has 15 goals and 11 assists in 23 matches.
He scored on his international debut against Estonia, becoming the first player born in the 21st Century to score for the Netherlands. While Memphis Depay will almost certainly be the Oranje’s starting center forward in next summer’s Euros, Boadu has a good shot at cracking Ronald Koeman’s squad, although he’ll have to beat out the likes of Wout Weghorst, Luuk de Jong and Donyell Malen to make the cut.
Next Big Move?
Boadu has emerged as one of the hottest striker prospects in Europe this season, and he’ll have no shortage of suitors next summer. Barcelona, who will likely be looking for a long-term replacement for Luis Suárez — El Pistolero will be 33 and have one year remaining in his current contract — will be following his development, especially if they decide to hire Koeman as their next manager.
Juventus, looking for a long-term replacement for Gonzalo Higuaín, who turns 32 next month, will also be keeping an eye on him, as well as other Serie A sides such as Roma, Napoli and Milan. If he can stay fit, expect Boadu to continue his progression into one of the best strikers in Europe.